Krewes and Festivals in New Orleans : Identity, Art, & amp; Mardi Gras Indians: How One Artists Identity Allowed Him to Work with Cultural Icons

Identity can have a profound impact on an individual and their work, especially when it comes to the creative space. Artists have leveraged their identities in different ways in order to create new spaces and conversations or to access spaces that were previously inaccessible to certain groups. The New Orleans muralist, Henry Lipkis, spoke of his experiences as an artist who creates art for public display and how there is a responsibility of awareness when creating this type of art. For Lipkis, it was upsetting when certain artists created mural works in New Orleans with racist and incorrect messaging because he  holds great pride in himself to be a powerful voice for all in New Orleans, especially the Mardi Gras Indian groups. As he works very closely with them.

Lipkis with Demond, a Mardi Gras Indian.

The Mardi Gras Indians are a pillar of the Mardi Gras culture in New Orleans. They are made up of Black men who not only celebrate carnival but celebrate Native Americans and the ways that the they helped the enslaved African people during the 1700s.  The Mardi Gras Indians wear beautiful colored suits with intricate beading and feathering, that take months to create by hand. This type of tradition is one of many that are secretly and closely guarded within the Mardi Gras Indian community. As a White man, Henry Lipkis has been able to work closely with Mardi Gras Indian groups and has even been lucky eneough to assist in the creation of the sacred suits. This is demonstrative of Lipkis’s identity and character because his identity is built upon a strong awareness of his surroundings and for the people that inhabit them. This is what gives  Lipkis the lucky opportunity to explore and create in spaces that were previously inaccessible to him and people like him.


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